Eleven years ago today I was at work in the morning. I had been in this new job for almost a year. Some of you may know, I am an Air Force Reserve Technician Pilot, meaning I am a civil servant 40 hours a week and a reserve pilot on evenings and weekends. I was the Assistant Chief Pilot, meaning I was the scheduler for about thirty pilots in my squadron.
That particular morning I was alone in the office, but had the television on and set to Fox News. I was busy working on the schedule when I looked up to see the reports about an aircraft hitting the first tower. Several weeks prior to this a small single engine aircraft had hit another building in New York, and it was simply pilot error. I chalked it up again to some dumbass pilot getting in over his head. It amazes me how many people get in an aircraft without much thought as to how dangerous it can be if you aren’t prepared. I remember thinking, “Holy crap, not again.” My focus went back to my excel spreadsheet. We hadn’t heard anything yet about what kind of aircraft it was, so I assumed it was a similar sized plane.
Minutes later the second jet crashed into the second tower. I stood up out of my seat and ran to the television. “That’s not right,” I said to myself. I knew immediately down in my bones that it was intentional. I called my wife and told her to turn on the news. In retrospect, probably not my smartest move. My wife was nearly nine months pregnant at the time, and it put her under a great deal of stress, enough stress that it caused preeclampsia and the premature birth of our 4th child. However, at that moment I just needed to share the news with someone. After speaking with her I ran down the hall to tell my boss I was going to take some leave and get off the base before they locked it down. He also had the news on and came to the same conclusion. I wanted to get home and see to the safety of my family before I was unable to leave the base. He relented, and I went home to watch the rest of the news at home.
The next several days were a whirlwind, being the largest reserve tanker base in the world meant we were going to have a role to play in the coming conflict. Our members are some of the most patriotic folks you will find anywhere and they answered the call to serve in a huge way. We managed to break some records getting out of town to support the war effort that was just starting, minus a few of us, as my wife went into labor and one of my co-workers wives did the same. Both our wives delivered boys on the same day. I missed the first rotation but ended up serving three rotations that following year at overseas locations. It is a time I will never forget.